Our text for this morning is sometimes referred to as Jesus “high priestly” prayer. Jesus is praying for His disciples and He is praying for us, His close friends. Jesus is praying especially that we would be protected in times of temptation. And we must admit that temptations to do evil abound in this world. We are constantly being tempted by the devil. And although we are tempted by the devil, we cannot blame our sins on the devil. He does not have that much control over us. Yes, he can tempt us, but he cannot force us to do anything. The devil tempts us in many ways. He knows our weaknesses and that is where he attacks. Usually his attacks come in the most subtle of ways. The devil does not tempt us to do the things he knows we would not normally do. He does not say, “bow down to idols,” “lust after other people,” “steal this item or that item,” “murder that person,” “don’t go to church,” because he knows that those temptations will not work. Instead, he uses more subtle ways of tempting us, such as putting other things into our life which become our gods such as money, drugs, alcohol, power, greed and the like. He tells us that “window shopping is okay” in other words, “it is okay to look lustfully at another person, just don’t touch.” He tells us “it is okay to work slow and to ‘borrow’ things from the company without worrying about returning them, especially because we are not being paid as we should.” He fills our time and our lives with so many other things to do other than go to church, so that we do not have time for church. Yes, the devil does tempt us.
But, not only does the devil tempt us, we are also tempted by the things of this world. Friends, or rather, those who seem to be friends often tempt us. You know how it is, they say something like, “come on, everyone else is doing it . . .” At times we want to blame our spiritual life on our parents, “they always ‘made’ me go to church, so now I am rebelling against that and not going,” or “my parents let me choose if I want to go to church or which church I want to go to, so now I am looking for a church which conforms to my human nature and urgings.” And one of my favorite temptations comes all the from the beginning when we hear the questions asked, “Did God really mean . . . ?” and you can fill in the blank, in other words when we are tempted to question God and His Word. God in His Word tells us the truth. The world and our culture tell us that truth is relative, which really means there is no truth. The temptations of the world are great indeed.